This is a travel blog for desktop travelers and other ramblers who want to know the world just a little bit better.

Right now I am living in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where I'll be settled for a while. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Copacabana - The Hottest Spot South of Havana

The Hottest Spot South of Havana

Ever since early June when we were freezing our tushes off in the Uyuni salt desert I have said that I want to go to the beach. It is now the end of August and we are still in Bolivia, a landlocked country. But the travel wheels have been set in motion and we are finally on the move. It is strange, I really liked Bolivia and I could even imagine living there doing volunteer work or something, but I just did not feel like traveling. I think it was the one month in Sucre, which was great, but killed my desire to backpack around the country. Anyway, you will never see everything and now we have a whole list of places to hit next time we are in Bolivia. But before getting to Peru we have one more stop at the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca.

Lake Titicaca at sunset from our hotel window

Singing Copacabana in Sucre

I am ready to zoom into Peru on horribly long bus rides, but Mika prefers to break up the trip so we make one last stop in Bolivia at Copacabana on Lake Titicaca. Which in itself is not so bad because Copacabana also happens to be the name of one of my top karaoke songs though I doubt that this town is the inspiration for the Barry Manilow hit.

From La Paz it is a nice ride that winds around around the lake and includes getting off the bus for a short ferry ride. For the Lonely Planet toting tourist a trip to Copacabana is avoidable without making the trip to the islands on the lake. Visiting Isla del Sol is just one of those tourist things that everyone does. At the moment, however, Mika and I are really not in the mood for sight-seeing. Chalk up these islands as something else we will need to see on our next visit to Bolivia.
Waiting for the passenger ferry while the buses get their own.
A detail from a monument at the ferry town. This really has nothing to do with our travel but I find the excessive gore quite amusing. 
Copacabana itself is not a bad place to be for a few nights if you find the right hotel, preferably one with a lake view. Because of the nearby islands the town has been a backpacker destination for a while and there is a main street lined with travel agencies, dingy hostels and English-menu carrying tourist restaurants to prove it. Yet it is starting to develop into a big destination for Bolivian tourists too. New hotels are sprouting up near the water offering views of Titicaca's deep dark blue waters while blocking the smaller, older hotels behind them. On the shoreline are a fleet of swan paddle boats for good family fun and a row of twenty-four tents housing trout restaurants all with the same menu. Criolla trout (one of the largest types) is farmed and famous here. I would not dream of visiting the lake without eating it. 
row of trout restaurants
and after
Pushing out our swan boat

Paddling our swan on Lake Titicaca

God Bless This Car

Copacabana has a beautiful old cathedral that for some reason has become the place to go to bless your car or truck. In front of the church are stalls selling flowers and assorted ornaments all for vehicular decorating. We are here in the last weekend in August which also happens to be a great time to get a blessing. Cars are lining up for several blocks to be able to park front of the cathedral, buy some decorations and spray the car with beer. And many of these people have come from Peru to do it. Many decorated vehicles can add a general feeling of merriment to any old drab city. Maybe the mayor of and car makers of Detroit should look into it.
In front of the cathedral

The next afternoon I eat delicious trout again by Lake Titicaca while Mika with a shaky stomach chooses a gringo restaurant for a safer option and ends getting the worst pizza on the continent. As we board the bus to Peru after lunch these meals serve as a wonderful metaphor for our entire experience of being travelers and tourists in Bolivia.

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